Victoria, you pile of bones

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This post is about a 19km walk from Schlögen to Engelhartszell. I see a Roman excavation and end up staying in Engelszell Abbey.

I woke up at five in the morning, and when I looked down at the river I couldn’t see it. There was a thick layer of clouds in the valley below, as if the Danube had covered itself with a blanket for the night.

the morning

I took a time-lapse of the clouds sloshing around and ever so slowly evaporating into nothingness, and meanwhile I talked to Uwe, a cyclist from Germany who had shown up at about six. Then I made my way back through the forest. At one point it became difficult to pull the Caboose, but a man who introduced himself as Peter helped me with it.

And then I was on my way down from the hills.

the noon

I had lunch in a tiny village called Wesenufer, then I reached the Roman excavation of Oberranna. It was from roughly the same time period as Carnuntum, the restored Roman town that Brad and I had visited with my dad almost two months earlier. And it, too, was part of the limes fortifications that the Romans had set up along the Danube.

The excavation was much smaller than Carnuntum, though, and since it had been left in its original, unrestored state, it appeared a bit less impressive.

the afternoon

I arrived at Engelhartszell in the late afternoon. There was a Trappist abbey called Engelszell that people had been telling me about. They had said that it was beautiful, and that the Trappist monks made good beer and liqueur.

I went and looked at the church first. It was a typical rococo church, but there were two things that seemed a bit weird about it: the ceiling fresco looked oddly modern, and I read later that it had been restored in a modern style in the 20th century. Okay.

The other thing was that there were four glass sarcophagi on its sides, displaying skeletons that were decorated with fancy garments and pearls. One of the sarcophagi had an inscription that said VICTORIA.

the evening

Who is Victoria? I asked the lady who was working in the souvenir/beer shop at the main gate. It took her a minute to understand who I was talking about, then she laughed and said that there had never been a Victoria. The bones had been brought here one by one over the centuries by pilgrims who had visited the catacombs of Rome. “So at some point it was decided to put them together and display them in the church, and to also give them random names for good measure!”

I bought a bottle of beer and asked her if I could pitch my tent somewhere on the premises. Then one of the monks appeared and said that this was out of the question. I was to have dinner and beer with him, and then they would give me a room in the monastery.

And so it was done.


the walk from Schlögen to Engelhartszell:

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